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Spartacus (1960)

Kirk Douglas , Laurence Olivier , Stanley Kubrick  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (375 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Dalton Trumbo
  • Producers: Kirk Douglas, Edward Lewis
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.21:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 1998
  • Run Time: 197 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (375 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0783226039
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,667 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spartacus" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Stanley Kubrick was only 31 years old when Kirk Douglas (star of Kubrick's classic Paths of Glory) recruited the young director to pilot this epic saga, in which the rebellious slave Spartacus (played by Douglas) leads a freedom revolt against the decadent Roman Empire. Kubrick would later disown the film because it was not a personal project--he was merely a director-for-hire--but Spartacus remains one of the best of Hollywood's grand historical epics. With an intelligent screenplay by then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (from a novel by Howard Fast), its message of moral integrity and courageous conviction is still quite powerful, and the all-star cast (including Charles Laughton in full toga) is full of entertaining surprises. Fully restored in 1991 to include scenes deleted from the original 1960 release, the full-length Spartacus is a grand-scale cinematic marvel, offering some of the most awesome battles ever filmed and a central performance by Douglas that's as sensitively emotional as it is intensely heroic. Jean Simmons plays the slave woman who becomes Spartacus's wife, and Peter Ustinov steals the show with his frequently hilarious, Oscar-winning performance as a slave trader who shamelessly curries favor with his Roman superiors. The restored version also includes a formerly deleted bathhouse scene in which Laurence Olivier plays a bisexual Roman senator (with restored dialogue dubbed by Anthony Hopkins) who gets hot and bothered over a slave servant played by Tony Curtis. These and other restored scenes expand the film to just over three hours in length. Despite some forgivable lulls, this is a rousing and substantial drama that grabs and holds your attention. Breaking tradition with sophisticated themes and a downbeat (yet eminently noble) conclusion, Spartacus is a thinking person's epic, rising above mere spectacle with a story as impressive as its widescreen action and Oscar-winning sets. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

This presentation of the powerful film classic features an additional five minutes of footage cut from the film's original release, plus the original overture and extended soundtrack. Director Stanley Kubrick tells the tale of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), the bold gladiator slave and Varinia (Jean Simmons), the woman who believed in his cause. Challenged by the power-hungry General Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Spartacus is forced to face his convictions and the power of the Imperial Rome at its glorious height. The inspirational true account of man's eternal struggle for freedom, Spartacus combines history with spectacle to create a moving drama of love and commitment.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars great movie, TERRIBLE blu-ray June 10, 2010
Format:Blu-ray
Great movie. Horrible, horrible blu-ray. Maybe the worst blu-ray disc I've seen. Do not buy, wait for a recall. It's so blatantly awful even non-cinephiles will notice.

Here's the main problem: most all the film grain and fine detail have been completely wiped out in a clumsy attempt to remove video noise. Which begs the question: so what's the point of owning it on blu-ray?

What's worse is that it didn't have to be this way. But I guess this is what happens when an indifferent media conglomerate has complete control over a masterpiece. Check out Robert Harris's (the man who restored the film years ago) extremely negative review of this blu-ray on the web. I thought maybe he was overdoing it a bit, but no. It's even worse than he says. If you have the Criterion DVDSpartacus - Criterion Collection, just hang on to it for now.
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154 of 170 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
If you're a fan of the movie "Spartacus", this is the version to get; the Universal DVD is as bare bones as they get with just the movie. The Criterion version looks great. The facelift the film received help return much of its luster. Kubrick later disowned his version of the epic Hollywood Sword & Sandal genre, but Kubrick brings much of his sensibility to bear; the fight sequences and epic vistas bring to mind Kubrick's work on Paths of Glory and 2001. True, this isn't a complete Kubrick picture; Kubrick had nothing to do with the screenplay and Douglas had all but cast the picture in collaboration with director Anthony Mann (dismissed after butting heads with Douglas one too many times).

Is it Kubrick's finest film? Well, frankly no it isn't. It's an interesting mishmash between Kubrick's detached, ironic style and Hollywood glitz. Spartacus is Kubrick for people who don't care for Kubrick's detached style. It doesn't measure up to Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001 or A Clockwork Orange although it does compare favorable to the much darker Paths of Glory.

Kubrick stated that his intent at the time was to subvert the cliches of the genre. As a result, Kubrick manages to reinvent a genre that was in danger of becoming a parody of itself. As a collaborative effort, Spartacus is a great piece of entertainment and far more sophisticated than almost everything else that came out of Hollywood at the time.

The transfer is beautiful with much of Kubrick's bold use of color restored. The strong acting of most of the cast has always been a virtue of Sparatcus. The soundtrack has been meticulously transferred to 5.1 and Alex North's beatiful score has never sounded so sweet, tragic and powerful before. The audio commentary is the same one that was on the laserdisc version.
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60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Long before Russell Crowe picked up his sword and battled corrupt Roman emperors, Kirk Douglas showed him the way in "Spartacus". This epic 1960 film still ranks as one of the best performances in Douglas's distinguished career, and it marked his second collaboration with famed director Stanley Kubrick. Even more than "Gladiator", "Spartacus" is based on a real historical event, although it greatly exaggerates the actual history. Spartacus was a Roman slave in the first century AD who became a gladiator for the Romans, but then escaped and formed an enormous army (estimated at anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000) of freed slaves and gladiators. For the next year this army, under Spartacus's leadership, terrorized the Italian countryside, until they were finally trapped and destroyed in battle with the still-powerful Roman Army.

As an old-fashioned Hollywood epic, "Spartacus" doesn't disappoint the viewer - there are epic battle scenes, high drama, and some great acting by several Hollywood legends. Interestingly, the film's producers felt that the contrast between the slave-gladiators and their corrupt Roman masters would be given greater contrast if they cast British actors (Sir Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton) as the leading Roman characters, and American actors as the slaves (Douglas, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons). All of the actors listed above shine in this film - Olivier simply drips with menace and hypocrisy as the great Roman General Crassus, who will stop at nothing to crush the slave revolt and bring the entire Roman Empire under his personal control. Laughton is delightful as Gracchus, a fat and somewhat corrupt, but also clever and freedom-loving, Roman Senator who loathes Crassus.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
The Movie:

I've been letting this one sit in my collection for a few months before I let loose on it. This is one of my personal favorite movies. In the "swords and sandals" genre I think it is among the finest - it has a stirring story, a wonderful sense of scope, a great soundtrack, and a set of truly exceptional performances, including screen greats such as Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, and Kirk Douglas. Although it doesn't display the sort of technical mastery that Kubrick would assert on his later films, there is still a certain Kubrickian something to the direction, as well. Certain camera moves, certain lingering shots, certain compositions. All told, it's a great movie and a great representation of the 1950-60s "epic" motion picture tradition. At 3-plus hours, it always remains brisk and entertaining, and it's a movie I frequently revisit because of its richness and replay value.

The Blu-Ray:

But then we get to this transfer. Having owned the Criterion DVD edition of this film, I was well acquainted with its look and feel.

This Blu-Ray transfer has been stripped of all natural film grain. As such, a level of fine detail is missing from the image, one which has been compensated for by the application of edge enhancement (quite noticeable on the tall iron bars frequently visible in the gladiator school) and an artificially boosted contrast.

On the plus side, the image *is* more detailed than the Criterion DVD. Interested viewers ought to search "spartacus dvdbeaver" in order to see that site's comparison between the Criterion DVD and the Universal Blu-Ray. You should be able to note that several of the comparison shots show that mid-sized details are much sharper. But fine details such as film grain are gone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC FILM
ONE OF KIRK DOUGLAS' BEST FILMS. CASTING WAS SUPERB, AND THE LAST BATTLE SCENE WAS ONE OF THE BEST EVER. CONTAINS GREAT HUMAN STORIES, INCLUDING SPARTACUS OWN LOVE LIFE.
Published 1 day ago by Robert J.
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Spartacus!
If you are looking for a cheery uplifting movie, this isn't it. The story is tragic from beginning to end. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Fabuladico
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Vicinio's review
I had purchased this item for my elderly mother. She loved it and used it often. As per my mother, it is great.
Published 5 days ago by Peter Vicinio
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
The acting in the movie is great. Olivier is fantastic as is Jean Simmons and Ustinov. Spartacus has always been one of y favorite movies since seeing it in 1960 when it was... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Bruce Croxall
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Roman Epic Film Ever
Kirk Douglas produced a masterpiece of filmmaking in "Spartacus." He hired the little known (at the time) Stanley Kubrick to direct the best of Kubrick's films; Douglas's... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Peggy Breen
5.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus is Kirk Douglas's signature role
In my opinion, this is the best of the "Biblical epic" films (as in the 10 Commandments, Ben Hur, Greatest Story Ever Told), despite its story being largely secular. Read more
Published 22 days ago by CC
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film
To me, this movie is one of the great ones. Add in that the screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, of whom I am a great fan, and you've got yourself a classic film. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Dino Martino
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie
Watched this years ago. Now I can watch it anytime. Very good history movie.
Any of you young people that haven't watch Kurt Douglas will have a crush like I did.
Published 26 days ago by Diane Gearlds
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie
More than 3 hours long (director Kubrick's style), this is a re-mastered version, with the intended and oft-deleted scene(s) included. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paul H. Fackler
5.0 out of 5 stars good movie
was a great movie when released and remains a great movie noe. excellent acting by Kurt Douglas with beautiful secenary
Published 1 month ago by ghostrider24
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Is Criterion going to release Spartacus on blu ray?
I do wish Criterion, or someone, would get the rights to this fabulous movie and do a proper transfer. Anyone who has ever seen the original 70mm print of Spartacus will be disgusted by the truly awful transfer Universal made of this, one of their all-time best and most expensive productions. The... Read more
Mar 13, 2013 by Jon Lidolt |  See all 4 posts
Spartacus Blu-Ray Edition
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/300552/a-few-words-about-spartacus-in-blu-ray
Questions?
May 14, 2010 by M. Hafner |  See all 7 posts
additional languages & subtitles?
I live in France. This fantastic 50 years old Blu-Ray is ZONED !!! and we cannot get it in France, it is not released. Crazy politic...
Nov 19, 2010 by Raymond Ackaouy |  See all 2 posts
Deleted Scenes?
All I know is that a lot of battle scenes were deleted from the original movie. Hopefully these are back in this digital version.
Aug 29, 2010 by Robea |  See all 2 posts
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